Learning to give back

ALPENA A few area youth groups have teamed up to help a family improve their house. Over the last few weeks, the kids have been learning about carpentry, painting (exterior and interior), roofing repairs, installing new windows, laying floors and landscaping different portions of the property. Those that couldn’t help with the interior work have been cooking and helping with other services around the house.

Catholic Human Services, Word of Life Baptist Church of Alpena, Hope United Methodist of Hastings and Lakewood United Methodist of Lake Odessa representatives and youth groups have been working together on the home of Tammy Malcoln and Shawn Dowell.

Crystal Armstead, representative and coordinator from Catholic Human Services, helped recommend the family to the groups for home improvements.

“They’re very grateful for everything,” Armstead said. “Everyone has been working from sun-up to sun-down every day doing what needs to be done.”

Malcoln is overwhelmed at the amount of work the groups have done on her house.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” she said. “I don’t know what words to say about it. I don’t have words for how nice this is. This old house needed it.”

Malcoln and Dowell have been living in the home on Long Lake Avenue and Monroe Street for two years. They knew the house needed many repairs, but didn’t have the means to do them.

“They’ve done so much for us,” Malcoln said. “They have made such a difference in the house. They put in windows that I can open now, and I have so much light coming into my house. It’s so nice. “

The old windows on the home were single pane and had a tendency to break when you tried to open them, she said.

There have been over 40 youth, along with adult supervision, hammering, painting and cleaning around the house, trying to get the big jobs done and finish up what they can before they have to leave.

“We’re helping out a family that wants to do better, but maybe doesn’t have the resources to make it happen,” Rudy Othmer, a youth volunteer coordinator from Lake Odessa, said. “The kids have worked hard all week long and we’re finishing up our projects as much as we can before we have to go.”

The youth groups from downstate have been staying at the Word of Life’s Youth and Family Center located in the old Catholic High School while working on the home.

“The youth learn and benefit a lot from this type of volunteering,” Othmer said. “At least as much as the homeowner. We try to come for a week and bring some hope with us.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.